Note: Being without the time or money to visit all of these gorgeous ballparks, it has not been possible for me to personally take in a game at all of them. In fact, I have been to only two, maybe three, of these parks. The following observations, therefore, generally come from television viewings, fact-based Web pages, Google searches, and other heresy.
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim Angels
The signature piece of the stadium, which resides on 2000 Gene Autry Way, is the “Outfield Extravaganza,” something “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy” would be proud of. The area beyond the center-field wall was built to model the rocky California coastline, and comes to life with six geysers and fireworks and pyrotechnics reminiscent of Disney World’s Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. But be warned, Oregon Trail aficionados: this area is designed to be viewed, not explored.
Bank One Ballpark, Arizona Diamondbacks
For those who like air conditioning, Bull’s-Eye Bermuda turf, and running bases, the BOB is the park for you. At the beginning of the ninth inning, kids are allowed to run the bases once before returning to their families. Once.
Turner Field, Atlanta Braves
The field’s turf—Prescription Athletic Turf—is actually grown below the scoreboard beyond the center-field wall. A twenty-story bronze statue of Ted Turner is currently stored below this turf farm, to be unveiled exactly three days after the mogul’s death. Jesus can read between the lines and isn’t pleased.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles
Outside of the right-field fence stands the landmark B&O Warehouse, the longest building on the East Coast and a highlight of the Windows 95-compatible Tony La Russa Baseball 4 video game. Have your picture taken in front of it: “Look, honey, a warehouse.”
Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox
Among the promotions this year: May 12—the first ten thousand fans get URL to hidden gallery of infamous Teen Beat magazine shoot at mannyramirez.com; June 23—any person with the last name of Beckett gets free admission into game; July 24—Pinstripe Skid Mark Night: Yankee toilet paper in all stalls; August 17—Grady Little Bobblehead Night (ask him if the pitcher should stay in … and then break him!).
Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs
The second-oldest park in the major leagues, no batted ball has ever hit the ancient scoreboard in center field. The site of such historic events as the Babe’s “called shot,” Pete Rose’s 4,191st career hit, and Bartman’s Debacle, the field is probably best known for its role in the 1993 comedy Rookie of the Year. I’m told it also has ivy.
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox
Swirling hot-dog wrappers aside, the constantly re-re-re-renovated Cell is one of the more underrated ballparks around. The family bathroom is located near section 107 at the top of ramp 2. Where’s your family bathroom? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Best Mock Name: U.S. Comiskular Field
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Reds
Fans may have to leave their Thundersticks at home, but will make up for it by taking pictures in front of the soon-to-be-famous Deep Fried Twinkie, inside of the Machine Room Grille. The exhibit is located on level 2 behind the Griffey Injury Experience, where fans can relive such famous injuries as the Ruptured Right-Ankle Tendon, the Torn Left Hamstring, or the Dislocated Shoulder. Don’t forget your Band-Aids!
Jacobs Field, Cleveland Indians
To those entering the House That the Brothers Alomar Built: leave the plush portable seat cushions at home. Jacobs Field offers some of the most comfortable seats in the game, with more legroom than you can shake a stick at. And if you do get the urge to shake a stick, there is plenty of room to do it in!
Coors Field, Colorado Rockies
With its ranking in the 2004 Baseball Prospectus as a “heavy hitter’s park,” it has become a vision of Hell to many a pitcher. Even more so than the vision established in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. And that was one scary devil! Fun Fact: First grand slam in stadium hit by Todd Hundley.
Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers
There’s a Ferris wheel here. Oh. And they have “liquid fireworks,” too. If those don’t say Detroit with an exclamation point (i.e., Detroit!), I don’t know what does.
Pro Player Stadium, Florida Marlins
Best known as the site of the annual Dolphins’ End-of-Season Collapse, this stadium takes on a glorious orange hue during baseball season due to the many, many empty seats. But if you’re going to watch Dontrelle toss a gem on 2267 Dan Marino Blvd., make sure to leave your umbrella at home. They are forbidden. Seriously.
Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros
Arguably the greatest baseball field ever made, Ex-Enron is home to “Tal’s Hill,” a thirty-degree uphill slope in center field containing a flagpole and Craig Biggio’s lost pride. A ball that hits the pole, or Biggio, and returns to the field is in play.
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals
Greatest feature of this incredibly round ballpark? The Little K. It’s the miniature interactive ballpark, which gives kids twelve and under (IDs required) a chance to step into the batter’s box and hit a few Curtis Leskanic fastballs—on days when he’s not blowing ninth-inning leads—out of the mini-park. Kids, make sure to listen to that height-challenged actor playing George Brett and keep your pine-tar use to a minimum.
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers
Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold, or How the Dodgers Say Fuck You: The park in Chavez Ravine prohibits noisemakers from being brought into the ballpark. Except for one game. On June 25, those damn Thunderstick-wielding Anaheim Angels come into town. And it’s Noisemaker Night. Given to all fans in attendance. I couldn’t make this up.
Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers
First Sausage-Race Winner (4/6/2001 at 9:10 p.m.): The Bratwurst